Artists set for John Moores Painting Prize

Cornelia Baltus
Image caption Cornelia Baltes is one of the 45 shortlisted entries in this year's painting prize

"I didn't plan to paint on the Walker Art Gallery wall," said Cornelia Baltes, moments after having done so.

"When I thought of this work, I didn't think I would have to reproduce it, I just did it."

The German-born art student travelled to Liverpool this week to paint a giant pointing finger at her entry into this year's John Moores Painting Prize.

Open to anyone, the competition has become the UK's best known painting competition.

Now in its 53rd year, the competition has boosted the careers of many artists, including David Hockney who won in 1967, and Peter Doig in 1993.

But never in the competition's history has anyone painted their work directly on to the wall of the gallery where the 45 short-listed entries are exhibited.

Baltes, 31, who is currently studying at London's Slade School of Fine Art, travelled to the city to paint the hand on Tuesday.

It points to her work, a large abstract painting on canvas called There You Are!

She said: "I started this painting, it was this big abstract painting, and I just suddenly had this idea for this finger.

"By adding the finger on the wall, it demanded that I looked at my painting anew.

"It is the first time I've painted on a gallery wall.

"I've painted on my studio wall for a few works in the last year."

She said the idea to paint the finger answered questions she was asking herself about her work.

"I was questioning the depiction of figures in my paintings, so I put the figure on the wall and then I had a figure and I also had an abstract painting, and then I had both things together, and it worked, and I just thought yeah, There You Are!

"I felt a bit shy to ask if I was allowed to paint on their wall, but I really thought about my work and I thought, I have to do this, I don't know another way to produce the work.

Image caption The artist is the first to paint on the gallery wall

"I felt like I needed my personal touch in the drawing, so it would have the simplicity and the energy I had when I painted the finger."

The painting was shortlisted from just under 3,000 entries, by a judging panel made up of artists Gary Hume, Alison Watt, Ged Quinn, Goshka Macuga and curator and critic Sir Norman Rosenthal.

This year, entrants included a man and a woman in their 90s, and even a member of the object dusting team at National Museums Liverpool, Jason Thompson.

The judges looked at digital images of the works before asking for a closer look at 260 of them.

After a night of discussion and deliberation, the shortlist of 45 was drawn up. The five prizewinners will be announced on 16 September.

Reyahn King, director of art galleries National Museums Liverpool, said the competition is a great chance to see new talent in the art world.

"What's so special about this painting competition is that anyone can enter. We have the best established artists alongside emerging talent. Today's prizewinners really are the future stars of the art world.

"The illustrious history and ongoing vigour of the John Moores make this the country's most important painting prize.

"Paintings submitted can be very different. We receive the strange, striking, unusual, the exciting. But they all have one thing in common - they depict a time and a moment in contemporary British art."

This year, the prizewinners announcement will be streamed live online for the first time, and will mark the beginning of the Liverpool Biennial, a 10-week festival of contemporary art from around the world.

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